Funcom has utterly failed The Secret World

I don’t think anything raises my blood pressure as quickly or vastly as when I see Funcom tweet that the Secret World team is doing some piddly livestream or in-game promotion while failing to talk about the game’s actual future. Because, let’s face it, there isn’t one. Funcom has virtually abandoned The Secret World — not once, but TWICE — and is running its corpse into the ground without putting in any more effort or resources.

Remember how Funcom was talking a big game about how the revamped Legends would not only deliver a more compelling combat experience (ha… no) and help fund the further development? That was a massive pill for TSW vets to swallow, to restart and go through a huge amount of content just to be able to access new story.

Since Legends’ launch in summer 2017, Funcom rolled out most — but not all — of the previous content that it hauled over from The Secret World, reworked the scenario system, and tossed in a whopping one story update (South Africa). The South Africa update was spring of 2018, and since then we’ve had pretty much nothing.

In fact, let’s look over what Funcom’s done with this game in 2019 to date:

  • It added a group mode to the Stonehenge occult defense mode in February. It also tried to sell a 12-month patron bundle that month.
  • In March, Funcom announced a Secret World spin-off single player game named Moons of Madness for a future release.
  • In April, there was a joke patch pushed out. Or was it.
  • The anniversary event was dug up to run this summer with activities, parties, prizes, and a scavenger hunt.
  • In June, Funcom also started selling a new epic cache key.

That’s it. That’s the whole year to date. That is not the picture of a game that is healthy, it’s a game that has been quietly unmoored from the docks and pushed out into a black ocean while the remaining community does what it can to keep itself occupied and cheered. It hasn’t stopped the quiet exodus of players who have seen the writing on the wall.

What really rustles my jimmies about all of this isn’t that Secret World may have turned unprofitable and not worth further development. That would be a tragedy, but it happens and it would be understandable. What upsets me is that Funcom has yet to address the failings of the Legends relaunch, has yet to really make good on all of its promises for the future of this game, and has shown that it is more than content to feed the delusion of the community that all is well and that there is hope.

Funcom leans hard on the community to run its own events and activities, because it’s far easier for that to happen and the studio to simply throw some promotion behind it than do anything new itself. It’s the appearance of staying busy without really doing anything significant.

But. Y’know. Thank heavens they got that epic cache key in the store. That was the important move right there.

The community isn’t completely oblivious, of course. That right there is what pops up on a simple Google search of the reddit, and it’s indicative of the wariness and despair that’s creeping into an MMO that hasn’t had its world change in any real way since a year and a half ago.

This is one of the most innovative MMOs and imaginative game worlds I’ve ever experienced, and it bothers me to no end that the studio running it is showing such a lack of responsibility and communication concerning it.

Funcom, you’ve failed Secret World. Twice. Shame on you.

11 thoughts on “Funcom has utterly failed The Secret World

  1. Krikket October 8, 2019 / 9:04 am

    I truly wish TSW had been a single player game – I love the exploration, the setting, the stories, the quests. It wasn’t great *for me* as an MMO because of the challenge level, but damn, my husband LOVED that game. Neither one of us has touched it a whole bunch since the relaunch – the little I did poke at it just didn’t catch me like the first time, y’know?

  2. Tanek October 8, 2019 / 10:31 am

    Agreed on all of the above (other than the combat…for whatever reason, I actually do have a better time with the combat in SWL than I did in TSW).

    I did not want to abandon all the time I had put into characters on TSW, but the draw of more story content was too great. and I had no idea it would also mean abandoning some of the best holiday (especially Halloween) content that had been added over the years.

    Unless things start looking up in 2020, the only real good I see that came out of the swap to SWL is the crop of new players who may never have tried the original game, but jumped in at the relaunch and at least have gotten to see the content that *is* there before it drifts away completely.

  3. Sylow October 8, 2019 / 11:19 am

    I fully agree. The stunt FC tried to pull there was terrible. Bad enough that i consider not only the franchise, but the company, to be off limits for me.

    I could now once again fill pages on what FC did wrong. They failed on so many levels, it’s ncredible. They even managed the impossible: to really piss off even roleplayers. Even pure roleplayers lost so many things during the transition from TSW to SWL. (A lot of cosmetical character options were lost, never to return. Before even noting that while clothing was transfered to the new account, weapon skins and emotes, which also were bought in old TSWs store, are gone. )

    Yet RFG, where this article links to their twitter account, soldiered on for quite a while. The community never really recovered from the switch. Listener numbers were down soon after SWLs launch. The new influx of people just did not stick. (To nobodys real surprise. FC disposed of the old playerbase who invested money into the game, in the hope of a new and better playerbase on a F2P basis. But the F2P playerbase wasn’t interested in the same activities and never built the community to the same level as the old game. ) I experienced it. It was a long and sad decline of a formerly highly active and well renowned in-game radio station. They only gave up after a long fight, when the community grew too thin and their shows regularily had no visitors any more at all. And even then, they did not just fade away. They gave one last big show night. They went out in a blaze of glory. Some of the DJs voice i have to admit that i never heard before. They were active at times, where i just couldn’t be gaming.

    I am really sad that the station shut down. I was not a DJ there, but i am well connected to one and I currently am searching for a MMO which still has an active radio station, fitting into the scenario of the game. Anything present time or futuristic with an active RP community would do. (I recently checked out SWtoR and STO. But while they are not as short on players as SWL, the RP community was, hmm, underrepresented. )

    So if anybody knows of a game meeting the given criteria (active RP community on a present day or futuristic setting), i would be all to happy to give it a try. Suggestions are welcome.

  4. Sylow October 8, 2019 / 11:29 am

    @Tanek: On your feeling that combat was better in SWL, let me guess: you upgraded your hardware in between? For both TSW and SWL actually had the same problem with combat: the game engine runs only on one processor core. So if your single processor performance is not good enough, combat feels very sluggish. While most of your processor cores have nothing to do and your hardware monitor showing rather low CPU useage.

    So both games really very much depended on the single core performance of your CPU. I actually went the opposite way: my old dual-core processor from 2008 had higher single thread performance than a quad core processor from 2015. Any other game i play runs much better on the newer processor. But TSW/SWL switched from “it’s fun and perfectly fine” to “mah, this combat sucks” by switching to a newer processor.

    And that’s while the single core performance of my the older CPU on paper is only like 5% better, while the overal performance is much below the newer CPU, these 5% seem to have made all the difference between “it’s responsive enough to be enjoyable” and “it feels sluggish, combat is no fun”.

    So all in all ,i would guess that SWL gave you a better experience, it’s because you upgraded your hardware in the years between.

  5. Yeebo October 8, 2019 / 1:31 pm

    The game that is still there really is absolutely fantastic. I would dearly love a good reason to fire up my sub again. I would even happily pay for a Congo expansion if it were at least as big as Tokyo. But Funcom obviously hasn’t the slightest interest in doing anything with the game apart from milking the current users base for as much as they can before the game crashes and burns. In most games statements like that are hyperbole, but in the last six months the only new content has been a really expensive cache key.

    It fills me with sadness every time I think about it.

  6. bhagpuss October 8, 2019 / 4:03 pm

    Funcom haven’t just abandoned The Secret World/Legends. They have abandoned MMORPGs. They very obviously have no further interest in any of their old line-up and I’m sure they’ll never produce a new one. They are making more money and have a more stable future with survival games and standalone single player or co-op games than they had when they were trying to leverage their MMO portfolio. They aren’t likely to revert to their old, loss-making habits.

    The surprising thing is that they’re still keeping the MMO side of the business running at all.

  7. Mailvaltar October 8, 2019 / 4:56 pm

    I’m really angry at them too, for all the reasons you stated and then some.

    The thing is, I really liked TSW’s combat. I also liked the Scenario system (after hating it at first, but once I got the hang of it I really started to dig it). I LOVED the skill wheel.

    Sure, the game’s main draws are the quests and the atmosphere, but mechanics-wise they stripped everything I liked when they forced their reboot upon us and replaced them with something clearly inferior (in my book).

    That they are not keeping any of their lofty promises after that stunt is just a (second, even harder) slap in our faces.

  8. seanas October 8, 2019 / 5:52 pm

    Ah, this is really sad news…

    I never went to SWL, thinking it what it turned out to be: a hail mary cash grab. Sure, the promise of South Africa was tempting, but no amount of hope was going to make me believe that SWL would be anything that it was – a cash grab. Even so, seeing one of the most innovative MMOs be put – for a second time – into maintenance mode, is not pleasant.

  9. Gamera977 October 9, 2019 / 12:37 pm

    I didn’t even know the game was still up and running. Sorry to say that I walked away with the Legends relaunch. I really didn’t want to start over after all the work I’d put into the game before.

  10. DonV October 10, 2019 / 11:23 pm

    I believed in this game a lot. Pre ordered bought a lifetime sub. Did not have much to complain about except that solo play was just to hard. Progression was painfully slow. I was getting stuck in new zones all the time. It hurts me to think about it, so I kind of pretend the game never happened.

  11. Sylow October 11, 2019 / 10:34 am

    I also had the lifetime sub. Also bought it for my wife. And during the games primetime, I even felt like i ripped FC off by buying it. The game was that good.

    On solo being too hard and progression too slow: i guess you fell into one of the traps of the game: it didn’t inform the new player well enough on how to actually build your character. There was a lot of power to be gained by assembling the right active and passive abilities. My regular every day open world setup included passives from seven different weapons. (So only one weapon contributed two of them. )

    And even a good beginner setup, no matter which weapons you used, generally included one or two passives form blade, hammer, shotgun and fist, which were the first or second passive you could buy there. Means, you just spend less than 10 AP to get them and immediately gained a lot of power and survivability.

    The system by itself was great, it allowed a lot of customisation and finetuning. The lacking part really was how hard it was to figure out for the casual player. You really had to look through it and set your mind on it, to make use of its power. Would the game have given better advise on character building right from the start, i would guess a lot of these reports of the game being too hard and progression being too slow never would have been written.

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